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The Power of Our Words

February 10, 2012

Recently a close friend gave me a gift of words, the perfect gift for a teacher with no genuine needs at the moment. (Thank you!) In the past when asked by family and friends what I would “like” for a special occasion, I have often responded, “World Peace.” My son assures me that he is still working on it. As I was enjoying my gift of “60 Words,” and reflecting upon the power and beauty of each one, I thought to myself, finally a gift that could actually have an authentic impact on others and maybe even promote world peace.

As teachers, our words have a powerful impact on our students, not just our words but how we say them. With our words we build relationships, show encouragement, sustain, boost, affirm, challenge, empathize, sympathize, model positive adult behavior and show our students we really care about them as individuals. One word can make a colossal difference in our relationships with our students.

Think about your classroom and WORDS. Often as a means of formative assessment, I ask my students to complete a Ticket Out. On a piece of paper or a ticket type handout, students write down one word or sentence:

  • Describe how you are feeling about this topic/lesson/idea/event.
  • Write one question you still have.
  • Write one thing you learned today.
  • Describe one way I can help you learn.
  • Share one new idea you now have.

The options are endless and provide valuable information.

So I was thinking about how students would feel if I gave them a word as they left my room. The word could be a compliment, something I noticed, or it could be used as homework.

  • Talk about this word with an adult.
  • Find this word in a newspaper, either paper or online.
  • Use this word in a sentence and be prepared to share tomorrow.
  • Write a short reflection on the importance of this word in your life.
  • How does this word connect to our current study of _____?
  • How does this word describe you?

Again the list is endless.

The words you choose to say something are just as important as the decision to speak. ~Author Unknown

Thank you to everyone who has shared words of wisdom, compassion, or friendship.

Have a good day.


Below are some resources to help you with your words.

  • Exit Words
    • Here is a list of words to give your students.
    • words (word document)
  • Exit Slip/Ticket Out Templates
  • ReadWriteThink – Exit Slip Strategy  (Includes a printout.)
  • Helping One, Helping All  The Responsive Classroom
    • I especially liked the Feb. 7 idea for Valentine’s Day and the Feb. 5 Passing in the Compliment Circle comment.
  • Choice Words (Book by Peter Johnston)
  • 5 Tips for Talking to Children at Play great article by Marissa Rasavong.
  • Free Rice – FreeRice is a non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Programme. (Interactive vocabulary website)
    • FreeRice has two goals:
      • Provide education to everyone for free.
      • Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.
  • Try The Two-by-Ten Strategy – It works!
    • Raymond Wlodkowski did extensive observations of student behavior, cataloguing student time in and out of seat as well as the types, instances, and severity of student disruptions. In particular, he researched a strategy called “Two-by-Ten.” Here, teachers focus on their most difficult student. For two minutes each day, 10 days in a row, teachers have a personal conversation with the student about anything the student is interested in, as long as the conversation is G-rated. Wlodkowski found an 85-percent improvement in that one student’s behavior. In addition, he found that the behavior of all the other students in the class improved.
    • Smith, R. & Lambert, M. (2008, September). Assuming the best. Educational Leadership, 66, 16-21.
    • *Check out this blog post by Matt Ray  – The Continuing Story of a Boy and His Paper Clips – Evidence of the Power of Our Words!

Choose your words carefully!

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